New figures show a record twelve months...

British record companies are celebrating their best year ever for album sales.

Figures released by the British Phonographic Industry for the third quarter of 2004 reveal a close to the best 12 months for albums in history, with a record 237million units being shipped, a 3 per cent rise year-on-year.

British artists can also celebrate, with eleven of the 20 best-selling albums coming from UK or UK-signed artists.

The biggest selling album of the year was ‘Life For Rent’ by Dido, followed by Will Young’s ‘Friday’s Child’.

Proof that record sales are increasing rather than decreasing, however, will not help the BPI’s claim that downloading is damaging the music business.

The top 20 biggest selling albums of the last 12 months are:

1. ‘Life For Rent’ – Dido

2. ‘Friday’s Child’ – Will Young

3. ‘Elephunk’ – Black Eyed Peas

4. ‘Call Off The Search’ – Katie Melua

5. ‘Number Ones’ – Michael Jackson

6. ‘In Time: The Best Of 1988-2003’ – REM

7. ‘Feels Like Home’ – Norah Jones

8. ‘Hopes and Fears’ – Keane

9. ‘A Present For Everyone’ – Busted

10. ‘Greatest Hits’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers

11. ‘Permission To Land’ – The Darkness

12. ‘Scissor Sisters’ – Scissor Sisters

13. ‘Greatest Hits’ – Guns n’Roses

14. ‘Confessions’ – Usher

15. ‘Twentysomething’ – Jamie Cullum

16, ‘Anastacia’ – Anastacia

17. ‘Songs About Jane’ – Maroon 5

18. ‘Three’ – Sugababes

19. ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ – The Streets

20. ‘Turnaround’ – Westlife